Endem & Leum – Planning Permission

Written by on 6th February 2018

Lee Hawthorn reviews Darlington hip-hop duo’s debut album

Endem first introduced himself to my ears in July 2016. The Darlington rapper was then one-third of Legitimate Anarchy – a rap group which has since turned into a record label, who were unknown at the time making their mark at Sunderland’s Young Sceptic Presents nights. Unbeknownst to everybody in attendance, that night became a pivotal moment in North East hip-hop.

Legitimate Anarchy were supporting North East Grime Kid, TM. Whilst Endem and his then crewmates Tommo and Spekz turned up early to Independent, TM didn’t come until much later in the night. This lead to a bit of tension between Endem and the night’s headliner eventually leading to the infamous ‘King Of The North’ diss.

Many people believe I’m still the only one that mentions ‘King Of The North’ – but listen to almost any release from a North East artist in 2017 and there’s a reference to it. No, not because of Game Of Throne’s popularity. They’re blatant responses to Endem.

Endem has moved on from trying to break his way into the local circuit’s good graces though. His ambitions are higher than impressing regional peers and has set his sights on wider success. ‘Planning Permission’ is Endem’s first official album, and as such offers an insight into what we can expect from the Legitimate Anarchy rapper going forward.

A key theme in ‘Planning Permission’ is relationships. Not just romantic – sexual relationships is a better description of Endem’s connection with women. ‘Planning Permission’ explores the rappers relationship with family and friends, drugs and alcohol, hip-hop and the team of musicians around him – including producer Leum.

On ‘Larger Things’, Endem indicates that this isn’t a case of a producer sending beats to a rapper to pick and choose from, but Leum crafting soundscapes specifically for the Darlington MC. It’s evident from the way Endem floats over the production with seeming ease. ‘Circus’ whilst somewhat gimmicky is a stand-out production from the album because although it could have been cheesy, Endem is able to use the circus-based sounds and flip it into a conceptually tight mockery of his peers.

Throughout ‘Planning Permission’, Endem showcases a sublime skill with rhyming. Considering the timing of Endem’s album coming out days after Eminem’s ‘Revival’, comparisons are easy to make – but unlike Shady, Endem isn’t just rhyming for the sake of showing off. They’re purposeful, carefully constructed and excellently executed.

It’s not a rappity-rap, technical exhibition which provides ‘Planning Permission’ with its best song. ‘Diaries Of A Sociopath – Part 2’ takes that honour. Endem examines his relationship with (spoiler alert) cocaine in an introspective track in which the rapper addresses his drug-fuelled past mistakes.

Endem’s poetry and Leum’s production shares a clear chemistry, but I would like to see more ambition. ‘Planning Permission’ ironically lives up to its title, maybe it’s time for the Legitimate Anarchy lads to stop asking for permission and simply start on the execution of their plans. In other words, this is a great demonstration of technical skill and there are glimmers of song writing brilliance, but I’d like a bigger delve into the depths of Endem as a person in himself, rather than his relationships with others.

Originally Appeared in Spark Magazine 

Current track